THE PALACE on Tuesday denied claims by a lawmaker that the government has neglected coronavirus-hit areas outside the capital region in its pandemic response, saying the surge in cases in other parts of the country is likely caused by a decreased public compliance to health protocols. Cagayan De Oro City Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez on Monday lamented that the national government has poorly responded to the coronavirus situation in Mindanao, the southern islands of the Philippines. He said his city and other areas faced surging infections because pandemic officials have failed to provide them with more coronavirus vaccines. Presidential Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said it’s not true that the Manila-based national government has neglected other areas. Several areas in Mindanao as well as the central Visayas islands experienced a spike in infections because localized lockdowns were not enforced and residents have failed to strictly comply with health protocols, he told a virtual news briefing. He further said transmissions are not caused by a lack of vaccines but complacency to minimum health safety standards. Mr. Roque asserted that the state’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines has been equitable. While admitting that the national government has been prioritizing Metro Manila in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines, Mr. Roque said only about 38% of the country’s vaccine supply is being received by the country’s key economic hub. “The remaining balance is still delivered to the rest of the Philippines pursuant to equitable distribution as mandated by the President,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza